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GM, LG investing $275 million to increase Tennessee battery plant capacity

Kalea Hall, The Detroit News on

Published in Automotive News

General Motors Co. and LG Energy Solution are investing $275 million at their Tennessee Ultium Cells LLC joint-venture battery plant to increase cell production there when it opens in late 2023, the company announced Friday.

Leaders from both companies made the Spring Hill expansion announcement in Nashville with Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee.

The additional investment is on top of the $2.3 billion initial investment GM and LG announced in 2021. The expansion will add 400 jobs to the 1,300 previously anticipated for the plant.

Expanding the Spring Hill operation will increase Ultium's battery cell output by more than 40% at the plant, the company said, from 35 gigawatt-hours to 50 gigawatt-hours, when the plant is fully operational.

"This investment will allow us to provide our customer GM more battery cells faster and support GM's aggressive EV launch plan in the coming years," said Tom Gallagher, Ultium Cells LLC vice president of operations, in a statement. "Ultium Cells is taking the appropriate steps to support GM's plan for more than 1 million units of EV capacity in North America by mid-decade."

The Tennessee Ultium plant is one of four battery cell manufacturing sites LG and GM are jointly developing in the U.S. A northeast Ohio battery plant started producing battery cells this year and construction has started on a third site in Delta Township near Lansing that's slated to open in late 2024. GM and LG are considering a New Carlisle, Indiana, site for their fourth battery plant location.

 

Overall, Ultium expects to have more than 130 gigawatt-hours of battery cell capacity when three of the facilities are at full production later this decade.

The Spring Hill Ultium plant is next to GM's Spring Hill Assembly plant, where production of electric Cadillac Lyriqs began this year. Production of battery cells at the Ultium Tennessee plant is slated to start next year.

Today's announcement at the Ultium Tennessee plant comes less than a week before workers at Ultium's Warren, Ohio, plant vote on unionizing with the United Auto Workers.

The Dec. 7 and Dec. 8 election monitored by the National Labor Relations Board will be the first at a joint venture battery cell plant operated in part by a Detroit automaker. Organizing the Ultium plants and other JV battery operations will be vital for the UAW and the result of next week's election will help determine how organizing efforts will go at other locations.

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